Process safety has been practiced as a field of research and safety management in the oil and chemical industries since the 1960s. Over this period there have been many tragic incidents, which have resulted in fatalities as well as asset, environmental, and reputational damage. While standards have improved since then and much work has been done, particularly in inherently safer design and management systems, catastrophic incidents are still happening and will continue to do so until we tackle them head on.
It appears as if we are not learning lessons from the past, because the causes of failures for current incidents are the same as past incidents, albeit in different environments. We must learn from these incidents. As an industry, our inability to learn from past incidents and demonstrate that process safety is improving has led to a project called “Process Safety in the 21st Century and Beyond”.
The aim of this project is to envision better process safety by outlining efforts that each stakeholder can take.
This project was led by a steering committee convened to bring in academic, industrial, regulatory, and societal perspectives from around the world and across stakeholders. Prof. Dr.-Ing. Jürgen Schmidt was part of the steering committee which identified the challenges in process safety and published their results in an informative brochure: